West Bengal doctors' strike: Medicos soften stand, agree to meet Mamata Banerjee, but CM 'not comfortable' with media presence

Kolkata: Agitating doctors in West Bengal softened their stand on Sunday, leaving it to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to decide the meeting venue with them, but insisted that it should be held in the presence of media and recorded.

 West Bengal doctors strike: Medicos soften stand, agree to meet Mamata Banerjee, but CM not comfortable with media presence

Junior doctors hold placards during their strike in protest against an attack on an intern doctor. PTI

Mamata is learned to have agreed to a meeting on Monday at an auditorium adjacent to the state secretariat. "The chief minister has agreed to the meeting tomorrow. We have invited two representatives from each medical college and hospital," a state government source told PTI. Mamata, however, is not "comfortable" with their proposal of media presence inside the meeting venue, the source stated.

"The meeting could either be held at the auditorium or at the chief minister's office. We have passed on this message to the junior doctors," the source said. Mamata on Saturday had invited the agitators for closed-door talks, but the offer was turned down by them.

Talking to reporters after a two-and-half-hour-long meeting on Sunday of its governing body, a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors said, "We are keen to end this impasse. We are ready to hold talks with the chief minister at a venue of her choice, provided it is held in the open, in the presence of media persons, and not behind closed doors."

The spokesperson said the venue should be spacious enough to accommodate representatives from all medical colleges and hospitals in the state. Earlier, the agitators had insisted that Mamata visit the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the agitation.

"We want to join our duties as early as possible in the best interests of the common people, once all our demands are met with adequately and logically through a discussion. We are hopeful that the chief minister will be considerate enough to solve the problems," the spokesperson said, adding that the strike would continue till a solution was worked out.

Junior doctors across the state are observing a strike in protest against an assault on two of their colleagues at NRS, allegedly by the family members of a patient who died on Monday night.

Services continued to remain affected for the sixth day on Sunday in emergency wards, outdoor facilities and pathological units of many state-run hospitals and private medical facilities in the state, leaving several patients in the lurch.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Sunday said it will go ahead with the strike on 17 June, withdrawing non-essential health services across the country in the wake of the assault on doctors in West Bengal. The IMA said all outpatient departments (OPDs), routine operation theatre services and ward visits will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am on Monday to 6 am Tuesday. Emergency and casualty services will continue to function, it said.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had on Saturday asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.

The IMA has demanded a comprehensive central law in dealing with violence on doctors and healthcare staff.

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Updated Date: Jun 17, 2019 09:27:38 IST